The cliff shone pale in the moonlight, impossibly high and huge, like something from another planet, like something glimpsed near sleep. Near the bottom of the zigzag staircase was a huge natural arched entrance all lit up and hung with tapestries.
I peeked in: a vast multistoried cavern fitted out for lounging. Reaching all up inside the cliff, natural stone passageways and staircases and wooden platforms covered with cushions and little tables, halogen lamps hanging here and there showing the top of the cave high above and the water sluicing down the far wall from the natural cistern. They called it Transpassers’ Cave. Hmph. It’s Ali Baba’s cave from Arabian Nights– Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.
Ali Baba couldn’t remember how to get into the cave, but I belted out “Open Sesame,” ran and got Buket and we slept there, along with a litter of flea-free month-old kittens, up on the second platform high above a slumbering company from the train.
I hoped to dream of Ali Baba or to channel the ancients, but all I heard was Celine Dion on the sound system until they shut it off around dawn. No matter! Stiff from sleeping doubled up on the train, I sprawled in bliss on the cushions. Hasankeyf’s altitude prevents fleas, mosquitos and other insect pests. A night to cherish, and in the morning they only let us pay for our breakfast.
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